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Hannibal: “Shiizakana”

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While Hannibal is certainly meant to be scary, “Shiizakana” felt more like a classic entry into the horror genre than any previous episodes, with Hannibal acting as evil Svengali to an army of damaged people. Randall Tier (Mark O’Brien) was the first example of what Hannibal could do with the littlest of pushes, Will is his current project, while Margot Verger is an example of what could happen in the future. In “Shiizakana,” Hannibal acts as the Pied Piper of the damned.


But in Hannibal’s mind, he does what he does out of love. That beginning, like many of the dream sequences in the show, was a loaded one. Hannibal’s army of the damaged is spurred by his love, as Hannibal tells Will that loving someone means seeing their true potential. “Expressing that love, our beloved’s potentials comes true,” he tells Will. Dream Hannibal feels the consequences of his love of Will at the hands of Will’s own stag, or his own monster that Hannibal has fostered within him. It’s important to note the means of Dream Hannibal’s death: Will does not kill him with his own hands, as he discusses with Hannibal, but through an out-of-body being. Will is not the monster that Hannibal presumes that he is. Those instincts exist within Will, but they are not part of his being in the same way it is with with Hannibal. At the same time, Will is on the brink. As he says himself, “Adapt. Evolve. Become.” Adapt enough to lure Hannibal and he becomes the stag himself, as in the striking image of Will covered in blood with his own stag horns even if it’s just in the context of his crime scene recreation.

Visually, Hannibal’s initial dream death was one of the first signs that “Shiizakana” was more in line with classic horror, especially in the slasher niche. In the series, gore has largely been presented as the world’s most fucked up art project—the episode that immediately pops into my mind is the skin angels of “Coquilles” as one of the series’ most indelible images, but in more recent episodes the human mural of “Kaiseki” and the flowering councilman of “Futamono” is certainly an excellent entry, among countless other examples. Yet, the corpses are not art projects in “Shiizakana.” They are, as Will points out, just sacks of meat, treated with none of the respect other killers have bestowed upon their victims. I like Hannibal because of the artfulness it finds in murder and was remiss at the idea of killer who murdered without the elegance of his peers. Similarly, the fountain of blood that accompanied Hannibal’s dream death didn’t work for me. This show has it’s own brand of humor that I’ve, especially as it’s been ratcheted up in this season (once again, RIP Dr. Chilton), but that shot, as well as the gore to follow were funny in a way that wasn’t in line with that sense of humor. I prefer the fucked up art project.


Randall Tier was his own version of Hannibal’s slasher: He’s a killer who kills for no other reason than good ol’ fashioned fun, and is so entirely ruled by his animal instincts that he not only believes he is one, but does all he can to physically transform into one. Hannibal treats him like an animal, siccing him on Will, pitting the two against each other. It’s unlike Will and Margot who have seemed to formed a shaky alliance of sorts. (Although Hannial’s relationship with Margot is shown to be on a visually different plane than his one with Will. During Will’s therapy sessions, Hannibal is shot in medium close up, as he faces the camera. With Margot, Hannibal is never shot fully facing the camera, but skewed, from above to the side.) That slasher spirit is also at the heart of the way Randall Tier kills his victims, starting with the unsuspecting truck driver lifted onto the roof of his own cab. Even Tier’s profession—reconstructing fossil at a natural history museum—points to his primality, his return to the most base of instincts. But, as Peter Bernadone (Jeremy Davies) tells Will, only humans kill just to kill, and like the cave bear Randall Tier models himself off of, he was headed for extinction. When Will brings his corpse to Hannibal’s feet, Will calls it justice. “I sent someone to kill you. You sent someone to kill me. Even stevens,” he says. But it’s just another round of the rouse, with Will positioning himself as Hannibal’s new animal to play with.

Stray observations:

  • Recipe of the week: Sacromonte omelet
  • Okay, who else totally thought dire wolves were made up creatures from Game of Thrones? Or am I just not as up on my prehistoric canines as I should be?
  • While I did not like those fountains of blood, one of the more beautiful shots of the “Shiizakana” was watching Randall Tier approach through the reflection of the eye of his victim.
  • “Typhoid and swans. It all comes from the same place.”